Archive for October, 2013

In case you missed, Nebraska has started it’s fall 2013 trout stocking schedule

Which means I have been out chasing my favorite fish, above and by far: the Rainbow Trout.

There isn’t a prettier fish around. Or one that is more fun to chase.

I have all sorts of things to say about chasing trout over the last week. But one experience takes the cake. One night this last week, Little E tagged along with me to catch a trout. She knows full well that the Rainbows are daddy’s favorite. And daddy desperately wanted to catch her one so she could hold one in her hands. Hopefully holding one would inspire a lifetime of awe in her, just as it had for me.

Well, they call it fishing for a reason. I got skunked.

Little E spent her time picking cattails to take home to mommy. Right toward sundown, when we were getting ready to call it a night, she pulled on my pant legs and asked if she could cast. I had my tenkara rod with me, and figured why not…

I had been messing around with a dry fly, as I had gotten a few pecks at it, but no takes. I didn’t think anything of the fly choice at the time; I just wanted her to cast the rod. So she began flinging the rod around. Her “cast” (using the word loosely) was pretty funny.

I was working with her to pick the line up, cast it, then count to five; to give the fish a chance to bite. An important skill for down the road I thought…

I thought…

When she went to pick up the line for a cast, she belted out “Daddy! I got a shishy!!!”

And sure enough, she did.

She pulled the rod back, almost instinctively. All I had to do was grab the line and flop it up on shore.

She was so excite… just look at that smile.

She even put it back in the water herself…

And then she wanted to keep going. And two or three casts later, up came another one…

That’s my girl!

Somehow, even the days I get skunked somehow turn out being pretty memorable

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It’s that time of year again, when my November Birthday and Christmas create the need for me to make a list of gift ideas for me. I think this list could apply to other fly anglers; but specifically, this is what you can get for me. For my friends and family, if you do get me something off this list then you might want to let my wife know so we can avoid duplicate gifts… (although I will take multiple trips to Kamchatka!)

Here is a Birthday/Xmas list…

This Boat
-A waterproof camera
-A Full Sized Coffee Maker for my office, since “Goose” is dying… Thank you to my wife and Little E for this for my B-Day!
-Magazine subscriptions to In-Fisherman, Nebraskaland, American Angler, Fly Rod and Reel, or the online magazine The Catch
-A Classy Red Sox Shirt (one that just says “Boston” or “Red Sox” without any other garbage on it)
-Fly tying desk organziers… This or This
-The Huskers To Win The B1G
An Ice Fishing Flasher
Gift Cards To Cabela’s to help me pay for the Fly Rod I am saving for
-New Husker Sweatshirts are always appreciated
-A box of Oreo cookies
-I need cologne
A guided fly fishing trip to Kamchatka
Big, Nice Fly Boxes, preferable waterproof…
-Summer Fishing Clothing… the non-cotton type that is super-fast drying… Long sleeve T’s preferred to avoid sunburns
-Winter Fishing Clothing… base layers, coats, especially pants… things to keep me warm while ice fishing
-Pretty much any ice fishing gear

Get to shopping and let’s make this my best birthday/xmas yet!!!
E

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I decide to attempt a huge leap forward in my fly tying this week…

This weekend while at Scheel’s in Omaha, I browsed through their fly fishing section and came across some deer hair popper flies. I believe these are the coolest looking flies that someone could fly. My experience with deer hair up to this point was only a couple of muddler minnows about a year back… and they came out so-so.

I figured deer hair flies were above my skill level. That is until my wife walked by, saw what I had in my hand, and commented “that one is neat.” Then the competitive side of me took off and said “Neat huh? I can do that…”

Above is my first attempt. Not bad; although if you look close enough you can can see the stumps of the rubber legs I attempted to tie into the fly… I broke one off and the others came out of the fly at all sorts of crazy angles… so I just cut them off.

Tonight I sat down and took a crack at it again. Deer hair fly number 2:

I have to say, for my second deer hair fly, I thought I did a pretty darn good job.

So I kept tying… Deer hair fly number 3 on the left (next to number 2):

Three flies, and I think I have the process perfected.

And I only stabbed myself on the hook point once while I had flies in the vise tonight…

There are two things that I love about fly fishing. The first is how involved you can make the experience. The second is how there is always something new to try… a new fly tying pattern, and new technique, a new species of fish to chase. The hobby constantly finds new ways to stay fresh and challenging.

And what takes a few minutes to learn, takes a life time to master.

See you hunched over the tying bench, covered in pastel colored deer hair…

E

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Sometimes the best fishing trips are ones that don’t have a single bite…

In order to give mommy sometime to get her projects done, Daddy and Little E planned a whole day out. She had been asking place that has bouncy castles, ball pits, and everything else that would make a three year old’s day. And seeing an opportunity to use this to my advantage, I struck a deal with Little E…

You see, she has not be “volunteering” to go fishing lately. She’s three and everyday brings with it a new revitalization of the knowledge that their is a whole world for her to discover.

And she loves to explore. The loss of my fishing body becomes a difficult pill to swallow.

So we struck a deal. If she would go fishing for a couple hours this morning, I would take her to the “play place”. At first the proposition only brought tears… “I don’t wanna fish; I just wanna go to the play place! I only want to do one thing!” But after a few minutes, she took the deal.

On the way to the lake, we talked about how “sometimes I don’t like to go fishing”, but only because she wanted to play. I can’t say I blame her.

But then we got to the lake… and out came the Sponge Bob fishing pole…

She marched me up and down the bank, to all of the “good spots”… the spots where she could drop her toy jellyfish tied to the end of her line in the water, and then she could retrieve it. Each time she did, she held it proudly in the air. She would march it over to me and ask, as I have done so many times for her, if I wanted to pet her “shishy”. And after a quick pet, she would have to put it back in the water… and make daddy say “bye-bye fishy”.

As we continued this process, it didn’t take her long to realize that daddy had not caught a fish yet… but she had caught lots of jellyfish. And she let daddy have it…

“I am a good fisher-girl. I a better fisher then you.”

That’s my girl. Rub it in…

No, I didn’t catch a fish; or even had a bite all day. But when I told Little E it was time to go to the play place, I caught the greatest line of the daddy…

“I don’t want to go, daddy! I’m not done fishing!!!”

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A “Good Stick”: A term for an excellent angler; who can catch fish regardless of the circumstances…

One of my life goals is to have someone refer to me by this phrase.

I know a few good anglers. Several of them I grew up around; including my old man and his friends. I found my passion for fishing in my late twenties, and never really appreciated the knowledge they had to offer. I a lot of my fishing knowledge (and virtually all my fly fishing knowledge) comes from the school of hard knocks. But I grew up listening to their stories; and they inspired me to reel in a few of my own.

Another angler who has had a huge impact on me is a bit of a local celebrity here in Nebraska. Our Game and Parks Commission here in Nebraska has a fisheries biologist that writes a local fishing blog as part of the Commission’s public outreach mission. Daryl Bauer and his “Barbs and Backlashes” blog (http://outdoornebraska.ne.gov/blogs/category/barbs-and-backlashes/) has inspired me in numerous ways. First of all, the guy is a heck of an angler. Second, he gives out tons of Nebraska fishing tips… if you are willing to read between the lines (no pun intended). And third, his wiliness to share his passion with the world was a huge influence on my creation of this blog. He takes a much more scientific slant on his blog; and by no means can I compete with that. I focus much more on the emotional aspects of fishing. But I have read every one of his blog posts since I rediscovered fishing…

I had a chance to introduce myself to him at a kids fishing tournament two years ago. I took two seconds to thank him for sending me some trout fishing info I emailed him for. That info lead to a great February tail water fishing trip that cured some mid winter fishing blues. I am sure he doesn’t remember me. And even though I only had a chance to say my name and thank you, shaking his hand was like meeting an idol of mine…

He has inspired me to fish, to write about fishing, and even to start the process to become a certified youth fishing instructor and teach others.

The weather here in Nebraska has taken a turn toward fall weather… cold, windy, and overcast. Today, I didn’t let this stop me. I had a couple hours to kill, and I had an itch to hit the water. Seven layers of clothing later, I was standing waist deep in Bowling lake casting right into a 30 mile per hour wind.

Less then ideal, but fishing is fishing. I love it even if I spend half my time fighting wind knots and horrible casting conditions.

Despite this, I read the water and devised a strategy. A stiff 8 weight rod, heavy jig head flies to bounce the bottom, and a painfully slow retrieve. The combination lead to a solid strike on the very first cast…

Despite the cold, wind, and less then ideal conditions, I kept fishing on. Several times I stopped and looked around. Even though I was at a very popular city lake, I was the only one on the water. Not many other people are brave/crazy enough to brave these conditions. I waded through the vegetation from hot spot to hot spot at my own leisure. I slowly worked each spot I knew on the lake; knowing that today I did not have to share it.

Alone on the water. Just me and the fish.

Bowling Lake could have skunked me, and I would not have cared…

And instead, the lake rewarded me with bite after bite…

The lake even rewarded me with a rare catfish on the fly today. I even had to reel him up.

When I got home and packed all my gear away, I started a general reading routine that I go through almost daily; which includes Mr. Bauer’s blog. On Friday, he had written about how although fish are affected by the weather and cold fronts, good anglers can still get a fish to bite. Bad weather does not always mean bad fishing…

He didn’t need to tell me. But a little confirmation brought a smile to my face. Catching fish on a day that most anglers wrote off provided a healthy boost to my ego…

I fish because I enjoy fishing. I don’t need external verification to know I am a good fisherman. I am a good fisherman because I enjoy fishing… rain or shine, skunked or once-in-a-lifetime day.

I am pretty sure that Mr. Bauer does not read my blog. Heck, I am not sure if anyone does (kidding). But how cool would it be if he did? And how awesome would it be if your idol thought you were a “good stick” too…

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Yesterday, I took a vacation day and headed for the lake…

Many anglers are attracted to the sport to be close to nature; to escape the rat race of modern life and return to a simpler time of existence. I am no different. Outside of my wife and daughter, nothing in life makes me happier then the smell of prairie grass and open water with the sounds of a splashing fish filling the air.

Yet, for some reason I find the act of completely separating myself from society to be a difficult matter. No matter how far I hike and wade into the wildlife areas; I find leaving my iPhone behind difficult. When I am fishing on a weekday, the phone will ding and vibrate every few minutes with work emails, text messages, and social media updates. Wrapped up in a plastic bag to keep it dry, the phone has a nesting place on the inside of my fishing vest; there to remind me that no matter how peaceful my immediate surroundings look; the cell phone tower, the roads, the modern life I seek to leave behind lies just beyond the tree line… just beyond my vision.

I guess maybe I am addicted to my phone. Or maybe that being reminded every few minutes that someone relies on me for something is reassuring. I am not sure which…

While wading through the water yesterday, I heard a ding between fishing holes; so I gave in to the irresistible erge and checked my messages. Sandwiched between the meeting requests and FYI emails was the notice of a student death…

As a 30 year old working in higher education, these emails always stop me dead in my tracks. They do not happen very often; but in my young career, this is not the first one I have received. I feel way too young to be receiving these emails; and working in higher education you would hope that these would never happen. But they’re called unexpected events for a reason…

I enjoy fly fishing because the sport drives me out into nature. I feel a vivid and interactive part of something much larger then myself. Being in nature assures me that there is a higher power in life; whatever that might be (I believe in all loving paths to “god”). That the circle of life moves on whether or not we notice the wheels turning; whether we can see these wheels past our offices, our iPhones, our jobs, our modern lives…

As I took a seat on a rock mid-fishing trip, the vastness of life fell on me all at once.

After a few moments, I gathered myself and waded on.

With each cast, each bite, each fish came the vibration of life… down the fly line, through my rod, and into my soul. When someone I know dies, I think the shadow of that event is very similar to the affect that modern life has… That it pulls the shades down over the larger meanings in life.

I think that modern life causes us to get caught up in frivolity… and we waste time worrying about things that ultimately do not matter. Similarly, the finality of death causes us to forget that life is much larger then we can possibly realize.

Luckily, I was fly fishing when I read the news. The vibrations of my fly rod reminded me of the larger things in life…

I wish nothing by my sympathies to this young man’s family… and the knowledge that life is a big circle. When one thing ends; another begins…

Fly fishing reminded me of that.

And with the release of a fat happy bluegill getting ready for the winter months, I am able to climb out of the water and back into modern life…

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